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best spanish road trips

Spain Best Road Trips: 7 Epic Road Trips For Exploring Spain

Driving is by far the best way to get around Spain, and if you have a couple of days (better yet, weeks) to spare on your vacation, why not make a road trip out of it? The country has so much going on in terms of landscapes, cities, and cultures, as each region of Spain is unique, and you’ll find that they have different cuisines, dialects, and historical influences. We’ve put together some of the best road trips Spain has to offer, so stick around as they’re coming right up! 

If you’re looking for beach days and dramatic coastal views, then taking a road trip along the Costa Brava could be just the ticket (it’s great for nightlife too!). For incredible landscapes and mountain scenery, then spending a few days cruising along the Pyrenees or the Picos de Europa will be exactly what you’re looking for. For a holiday filled with history and stunning architecture, then driving around the Castilla y Leon region is definitely the one. 

Basically, what we’re getting at is, Spain has something for everyone, and as far as road trips go, this country is a DREAM destination. Now for the juicy part – here are our top road trip picks:

Picos de Europa National Park

Los Picos de Europa
Photo credit: Alejandro Luengo/Unsplash
StartSantander
FinishAsturias
Best forHiking, mountains
Suggested length5 days

Los Picos de Europa, also known as the Peaks of Europe is one of the most famous Spanish National Parks, but we wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t heard of it! This hidden gem (so to speak) is in Northern Spain, and if you’re into hiking, amazing views, and cider and cheese tastings (urrrrm, who isn’t???), then you have to head here. 

There isn’t an official driving route when it comes to Los Picos de Europa, and you could spend anywhere from a couple of days to a month exploring this fantastic area. That being said, we do have a few recommendations for you. The route we’re going to recommend can be done back to front, so if that better suits your holiday, then have at it by all means! Start off your journey in Santander, relaxing on its sandy beaches and touring its historical buildings (like the Palacio Real de la Magdalena), then slowly make your way to Asturias, passing through Los Picos de Europa on the way. Five days is a great ballpark for length, although feel free to adjust accordingly!

A few stops we would suggest are Potes, Fuente De, Cain de Valdeon, and Covadonga for the Sanctuary and the lakes. Potes is great for local cheese and cider, and to sample local delicacies like Cocido Lebaniego (meat stew with chickpeas). In Fuente De, you should ride on the longest single-span cable car in Europe, and hike Horcados Rojos to admire the rugged mountains and the lake, Lagos de Lloroza. Cain de Valdeon is a picturesque little village with places to eat and drink delicious local red wine. The Covadonga Sanctuary is an amazing catholic Sanctuary in the mountains and the lakes are the perfect place for a waterfront picnic! The shoulder months of May to October are the best times for fewer crowds and pleasant weather. You can either book accommodation in nearby towns or camp at an official camping site

Andalucia

marbella beach
Photo credit: silviyanenova/Unsplash
StartMalaga
FinishMalaga
Best forBeaches, history
Suggested length10 days – 2 weeks

Andalucia, Spain’s southernmost region, is a firm favorite amongst holiday-makers for its warm, Mediterranean climate. June, July, and August are the peak season in this region, and on top of the high prices and crowds, this time of the year brings hot temperatures that can be a tad bit uncomfortable, especially if you’re on a long car journey! That’s why we recommend the shoulder seasons of May – June, and September to November to visit.  

This road trip covers parts of the Costa del Sol coast (hello partying it UP in Malaga), the cultural cities of Seville and Granada, as well as some incredible historical sights in between! We suggest taking ten days to two weeks to do this trip, which is a loop that starts and ends in Malaga. Spend a few days in the city before you start your journey, walking along the port, visiting the Museo de Malaga, and the Museo Picasso Malaga (Picasso was FROM Malaga, in case you didn’t know).  Once you’ve had your fill, rent a car, and head out on the loop, stopping in Mijas, Marbella, Ronda, Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Seville, Carmona, Cordoba, Antequera, and Granada, before making your way back.  

Some highlights of the trip are the white sand beaches of Marbella, taking in the views of the new bridge of Ronda, freshly caught seafood in Cadiz, and a sherry tour in Jerez de la Frontera. Catching a flamenco show in Seville is a must, as is visiting the Alhambra Palace in Granada. It’s safe to say, this road trip will be pretty packed! So feel free to skip some places, spend longer in others, or just take more time on the road!

Castilla y Leon 

Castle Segovia
Photo credit: isabel_deniz_/Unsplash
StartMadrid
FinishMadrid
Best forArchitecture, history
Suggested length1 week – 10 days

If you appreciate history and stunning architecture, then a trip around the Castilla y Leon region has got to be one of the best road trips in Spain. This area is a part of Spain’s heartland and may be one of the country’s best-kept secrets! It can get pretty hot and relatively crowded during the summer months, the entire country’s peak season, so for more manageable temperatures and crowds, head over in the shoulder months of June or September. 

We’d recommend taking a week to ten days to explore this area at a leisurely pace! Start in Madrid, the nearest place to touch down if you’re arriving from another country, and rent a car after a couple of days exploring the city. Madrid is an awesome city and you’ll enjoy walking around El Retiro park and Plaza Mayor, as well as chowing down on some Bocadillo de Calamares (the Madrid-style fried calamari sandwich!). Once you’re done exploring head out on a big loop, making stops at Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Ledesma, Zamora, Leon, Aranda de Duero, and finally Pedraza. 

Our favorite things on this route are the breathtaking Alcazar castle in Segovia (which looks like a real-life Disney castle BTW), the medieval walled city of Avila, the quaint historical riverside village of Ledesma, not forgetting Gaudi’s Casa Botines in Leon. Didn’t we tell you this road trip was a historian’s dream?!

Costa Brava

Girona rooftops
Photo credit: Mathias P.R. Reding/Unsplash
StartBarcelona
FinishGirona
Best forFood, history
Suggested length3 days

We’ve got a short and sweet little road trip for you which can be done in as little as three days, or stretched out for as long as you’d like! You’ll be in Catalonia, so while you’re there we highly suggest taking advantage and trying some (read:all) of their specialty dishes (if you’re a foodie, this is one of the best road trips in Spain!). Some of our faves are Suquet de Peix, a saffron seafood stew, Canelons, Catelonnia’s answer to lasagne, and Escalivada, chargrilled smokey Mediterranean vegetables… we’re already drooling. 

On day one, head along the coast from Barcelona all the way to Begur. Stop in Blanes, wander along the cobblestone streets of Tossa de Mar, and visit the oceanfront castle, before finding somewhere to eat. Continue on to Palamos for a quick stop at one of its awesome beaches, before hunkering down in Begur for the night. Begur is gorgeous, so if you have time, try and stay long and swim in Platja Fonda and get lost in its narrow streets.  

Wake up early for day two, and make your way to Girona, stopping in the medieval villages of Pals and Peratallada for beautiful sandstone buildings, cute cafes, and beautiful castles. Make sure you arrive in Girona with enough time to explore, as you’ll want to admire the cathedral, the Jewish Quarter, and walk along the old city walls. This city looks like something out of a storybook and was even one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones! Finish your last day visiting the ruins of Empuries, stopping at Besalu, Figueres, and Cadaques – this last time inspired Dali himself, so you HAVE to see it! If you don’t mind crowds, the best time to visit is between June and August for warm weather, others May to early June is the time to go. 

Atlantic Coast

Surfing San Sebastian
Photo credit: Michela Serventi/Unsplash
StartSan Sebastian
FinishVigo
Best forBeaches, surfing
Suggested length5 – 7 days

We are absolutely in LOVE with Spain’s Atlantic coast, and can’t think of anything better than taking a week to road trip this wild and rugged coastline (it’s the best!). The itinerary we’ve got for you can be done in five days, at a pinch, but to make the most of it, we recommend a seven-day stint. The best time to visit this region in northern Spain is in July and August for hot, dry weather. You could opt for the shoulder seasons for fewer crowds but it will be a little bit colder!

Start off your journey in San Sebastian and make your way to Vigo, spending the night in each of the following towns: Bilbao, Santander, Gijon, Lugo, A Coruna, and Santiago de Compostela. If you have the time we more than recommend spending a few days in San Sebastian. You can hike up Monte Igueldo for the best views of the bay, lounge on Playa de la Concha, and gorge on some traditional Basque-style tapas. 

Our top highlights of the road trip are the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, the golden sand beaches of Santander, and the magnificent Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. This whole area is also a surfer’s PARADISE, so it has got to be on our list of the best road trips in Spain. There’s warm water and big swells between June and August fo this is the best time for a surf trip, and if you’re really committed to catching some waves, you could carry on your trip right into Portugal for a summer of surfing.

Ibiza

ibiza cove
Photo credit: ibiza_ibiza_ibiza/Unsplash
StartIbiza Town
FinishIbiza Town
Best forNightlife, beaches
Suggested length2 – 3 days

Of course, we HAVE to include Ibiza. While most people know it as a crazy party island, there’s actually a whole other relaxing and peaceful side to this fantastic place. Now, the island may seem small, but it’s actually around 210km all the way around, so a road trip is totally doable and a great way to explore, and one of the best road trips in Spain (if you ask us).

If you’re totally up for a fun road trip in Ibiza, then we suggest heading out there in May to early June. July and August do have great weather, but this is when you can expect big crowds, and September tends to be the rainiest time of the year. Start in Ibiza town and take a scenic drive to San Antonio along the southwest coast. There are lots of little towns and beaches along the way so take a picnic and choose a place to have lunch! San Antonio is a notorious party place, so get ready to hit the clubs and spend the next morning recovering from your hangover on the beautiful beach. 

Next on your itinerary will be Portinatx, a small resort town in the north, great for snorkeling, swimming, and walking. Stopover in Santa Gertrudis along the way for a bohemian vibe and rustic local bars. Spend your last day driving back to Ibiza town along the east coast, stopping over at Santa Eularia for some awesome shopping in the hippy markets of Es Canar and Las Dalias.

Rioja

Rioja vineyard
Photo credit: Abrumado/Pixabay
StartHaro
FinishHaro
Best forWine, history
Suggested length4 days

There’s no denying that Spanish wine is some of the best in the world, so we just HAD to include a tour through wine country on our list of top road trips in Spain! This trip goes in a loop starting and ending in Haro, and to get the most out of it, we recommend taking four days. September is the best time to visit Rioja as it’s grape harvesting season, so there’ll be lots to see and the wineries will be buzzing with activity! 

Start and end your journey in Haro, calling in at Briones-Elciego, Laguardia, Logrono, San Millan de la Cogolla, and Santo Domingo de la Calzada. For this road trip, we recommend you spend four days driving around, but as always, the longer the better! If you find yourself taking the trip around late June, try to time it around visiting the Haro Wine Festival, prices do spike around this time, but who could resist joining in with the “wine battle” when participants splash, shoot, and pour wine on one another. Sounds messy, but super fun. 

One of the best parts of the trip is visiting Logrono, the capital of Rioja, where you can visit wineries and Calle Laurel, one of the most famous tapas streets in the whole of Spain. When driving to Laguardia, we suggest taking the N124-N232 for a scenic road with some amazing viewpoints! Laguardia itself is also an incredible place, with narrow streets, cobbled streets, hidden away behind its medieval walls!